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Sec. 1022.140 Prohibition against circumventing or evading treatment as a consumer reporting agency.

(a) A consumer reporting agency shall not circumvent or evade treatment as a “consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis,” as defined under section 603(p) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681a(p), by any means, including, but not limited to:

(1) Corporate organization, reorganization, structure, or restructuring, including merger, acquisition, dissolution, divestiture, or asset sale of a consumer reporting agency; or

(2) Maintaining or merging public record and credit account information in a manner that is substantially equivalent to that described in Paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 603(p) of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681a(p).

(b) Examples:

(1) Circumvention through reorganization by data type. XYZ Inc. is a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis. It restructures its operations so that public record information is assembled and maintained only by its corporate affiliate, ABC Inc. XYZ continues operating as a consumer reporting agency but ceases to comply with the FCRA obligations of a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis, asserting that it no longer meets the definition found in FCRA section 603(p), because it no longer maintains public record information. XYZ's conduct is a circumvention or evasion of treatment as a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis, and thus violates this section.

(2) Circumvention through reorganization by regional operations. PDQ Inc. is a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis. It restructures its operations so that corporate affiliates separately assemble and maintain all information on consumers residing in each state. PDQ continues to operate as a consumer reporting agency but ceases to comply with the FCRA obligations of a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis, asserting that it no longer meets the definition found in FCRA section 603(p), because it no longer operates on a nationwide basis. PDQ's conduct is a circumvention or evasion of treatment as a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis, and thus violates this section.

(3) Circumvention by a newly formed entity. Smith Co. is a new entrant in the marketplace for consumer reports that bear on a consumer's credit worthiness, standing and capacity. Smith Co. organizes itself into two affiliated companies: Smith Credit Co. and Smith Public Records Co. Smith Credit Co. assembles and maintains credit account information from persons who furnish that information regularly and in the ordinary course of business on consumers residing nationwide. Smith Public Records Co. assembles and maintains public record information on consumers nationwide. Neither Smith Co. nor its affiliated organizations comply with FCRA obligations of consumer reporting agencies that compile and maintain files on consumers on a nationwide basis. Smith Co.'s conduct is a circumvention or evasion of treatment as a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis, and thus violates this section.

(4) Bona fide, arm's length transaction with unaffiliated party. Foster Ltd. is a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis. Foster Ltd. sells its public record information business to an unaffiliated company in a bona fide, arm's length transaction. Foster Ltd. ceases to assemble, evaluate and maintain public record information on consumers residing nationwide, and ceases to offer reports containing public record information. Foster Ltd.'s conduct is not a circumvention or evasion of treatment as a consumer reporting agency that compiles and maintains files on consumers on a nationwide basis. Foster Ltd.'s conduct does not violate this part.

(c) Limitation on applicability. Any person who is otherwise in violation of paragraph (a) of this section shall be deemed to be in compliance with this part if such person is in compliance with all obligations imposed upon consumer reporting agencies that compile and maintain files on consumers on a nationwide basis under the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.

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